An issue of anti-state communist magazine Proletarian Gob in which they reprint an article on Darwin, religion and racism by academic Andrew Pflaeger.
PROLETARIAN GOB is anti-capitalist, anti-state and ant-authoritarian. PROLETARIAN GOB is for the creation of a worldwide, free human community, which can only be achieved by the conscious actions of a revolutionary proletariat acting for itself and not at the direction of some 'Revolutionary Party'.
Only when the working class is completely out of control will we be able to take control of our own lives
People in the "Western World" live in a society culturally dominated by ideas of hygeine, sport, health and what passes these days for beauty. This was the central aim of the German National Socialist Workers Party (the Nazi's). To build a society fit for work and fit for the promotion of a nation - that is, stupid. Across the decades the figures of Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Nelson Mandela, Lorraine Kelly and Mr. Motivator are shaking hands with good old Adolf Hitler.
Christian heretics a few hundred years ago might have envisaged this millenium as a time when priests, lawyers, bailiffs, nobility and the rich would finally get their throats cut. But Christianity has done a shifty side-step, it has become Rational and it has made sure everyone else has too. In this idiot world reasonableness is the new motto, democracy marks the parameters of the game we are allowed to play, and foolishness has been conquered.
In this special issue of P.G. we are printing a text published last year in The Journal for Social and Institutional Historicism, Volume 5, Number 11, Michigan, U.S.A., September 1997. It is written by Professor Andrew Pflaeger of Michigan State University. Pflaeger teaches anthropometry, which is the study of the comparative dimensions of the human body. This discipline is long past its hey-day and has suffered some serious setbacks in recent years, most notable of which was the case of the Brazilian academic Dr. Antonio Vargas, who, with his team of scientists from the University of Sao Paulo, managed to mis-measure a whole Amazonian-basin tribe. They failed to realise their mistake until after their findings had been published, but by then the government had already acted and the whole tribe had been forcibly removed to a shanty town outside Refice. There was an international outcry on the matter and many academic institutions closed down their anthropometry departments and called for the banning of anthropometry as a scientific discipline. Education administrators in the U.S.A. took a more cautious line and today it is only in the U.S.A. that any significant research into anthropometry is undertaken.
In the text below Andrew Pflaeger has tried to situate twentieth century anthropometry in its social, political and historical context, but it is his concern with the Christian-Rational- Intellectual crisis which has been significantly resolved as we head into the third Christian Millenium that interests us most here.
THE HUMAN BODY AND CHRISTIAN-RATIONALISM IN THE PRE-THIRD MILLENIUM ERA.
FROM DARWIN TO THE GREENWICH DOME.
In this paper I want to show how the cult of the human body emerged in the industrialised nations and how ideas of hygeine and fitness became one of the main tools of the Christian-Rationalist ethic. I will also briefly discuss what may be called the "Rationalist Reformation".
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) was studying naturism at Cambridge University when his friend Professor J. Henslow obtained a post for him on the scientific survey ship, H.M.S. Beagle, as Chief Naturist. The whole ship, in fact, was to be run on strict rules of nudity for the duration of its five year exploration of the world and Darwin was profoundly affected by the experience. Darwin, who had always been obsessed by the human body, meticulously detailed all the different bodies he came across in his travels. He also studied carefully the unfamiliar flora and fauna that he saw. He made many sketches and even used a pin-hole camera but unfortunately none of the photographs he took of wildlife came out. He did, however, succeed in taking many excellent photographs of the ships crew, but these were later detroyed by his wife.
Darwin's long journey around the world confirmed many of his deepest convictions. One of these was the belief that it was only natural in society that the best and ablest people rose to the top and that these people, by breeding amongst themselves, would continue to be in the upper echelons of society down through the generations. They would, in fact, become even more superior to the rest of the population because all their best attributes would be continually enhanced. The rest of humanity would, through their lack of imagination, talent and good health, remain in a subservient position, to be used by those in power. For Darwin, and most members of his economic class, the "common man" was little more than a passably intelligent farm animal. Darwin transferred this theory of "natural selection" to the world of wildlife in general, coming up with his theory of the "survival of the fittest" (i.e., those most suited to their environment).
The nineteenth century saw a great deal of revolt by working people all over Europe and, partly to reassure themselves, the ruling class looked for justifications for their continued rule. It was no accident that Darwin's theories fitted this need perfectly, like the rest of his peers, Darwin dreaded the thought that the ordinary rabble might one day rise up and take control of society, thereby killing all that was beautiful, reasonable and intelligent in the world.
Darwin believed that humans would eventually evolve into a ball of white light that was able to perform feats of dexterity and strength far in advance of those that humans are presently capable of, also, of course, they would be super-intelligent. This development would not happen, though, if the upper strata of society allowed their heredity to become contaminated too much by ordinary folk. The lower stratas, he believed, were destined to evolve into a rodent-like creature about five feet long, before slowly becoming extinct. Once the lower stratas had lost their usefulness they would probably, he mused, be hunted to extinction for sport. In The Descent of Man (1871), Darwin concentrated not on his theories of the future but rather on the past. In this book he argued that humanity was descended from the ape-family and, as we all know, this shocked many of those who had held with the "Adam and Eve" story from the Christian bible. In fact, in order not to alarm his readers too much Darwin actually toned down his central thesis, for, in truth, he was certain that humanity was descended from the grebe family. He knew that this theory would be too much for the establishments of Europe at that time so, on the advice of a friend, he changed the grebes to apes.
The more perceptive of Darwin's readers realised that Darwin was not trying to bring Christian civilisation crashing to its knees by examining the origins of life, he was actually trying to help save it from the ignorant mob. His lesson was that the leaders of society must protect themselves from evolving in the wrong way, and thereby failing Gods awesome plan to create a species of perfect beings. Lack of diligence in keeping the breed pure and clean and in control of the worlds resources (which included labour, of course), would be the real attack on God. The champions of Darwin's message became known as Social Darwinists, and they were part of the whole movement which examined geneology, "racial hygeine" and, of course, eugenics. The word "eugenics" was coined by Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's cousin, during a drinking contest in Balham, South London, in 1883.
A Clean New World
The upper classes of turn of the century Europe were fascinated by the whole concept of hygeine. The medical profession saw the opportunity to increase the general publics awareness of cleanliness and sanitory living conditions as a way of reducing disease and ill health. Moralists used the ideas of hygeine to divide humanity into the "fit" and the "unfit", taking their heed from Darwin. Architects wanted to do away with the old cramped and dirty streets and living spaces which were a hallmark of the cities of Europe, they wanted to introduce light and openness, clean air and angular lines. Artists too were affected by this desire for a more orderly and uncluttered life. Artists like Wassily Kandinsky and Piet Mondrian, influenced by the spiritualist medium and hoaxer, Madame Blavatsky, began trying to look at the world in the way they thought God had made it, by using geometric shapes and straight lines. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque expressed a similar religious fervour with cubism.
The medical profession was also making outstanding advances in their knowledge of the human body. In 1898 Doctor Heinz Feldt of Vienna created a world sensation with his discovery of the human liver. By 1910 all the organs, muscles, arteries, veins and bones could be mapped within the human body. This enabled the anatomist Professor Spalteholz, using plastics, to create a see-through human model, known as the "Visible Man", in which all the interior parts of the body were visible. The arms of this model were raised up in what looks like an exhultation of fitness, hope, and a belief in higher things. The Visible Man first made its appearance at the opening of the International Hygeine Exhibition in Dresden in 1911. Eventually a national Museum of Hygeine was built in Germany, in which the Visible Man was the star exhibit. During the Weimar period this proved to be Germany's most popular museum, and under Hitler, from 1933, it became a compulsory school trip for children from all over the country.
Hygeine exhibitions had begun in Britain before the end of the century before being taken up by Germany. Their purpose was to educate the public and make money for the entrepreneurs who ran them. The public were interested in anything that might reduce the risk of disease, and also there was a morbid fascination for the depictions on display of disease-ridden bodies and the explanations of how diseases worked. The exhibitions also had displays on ethnology and, using the science of anthropometry, they showed how different people around the world were prone to different diseases and how levels of squalor in their living conditions exacerbated their general ill health. However, it was a German mouthwash manufacturer, Herr Lingner (he never forgave his parents for giving him the name "mister"), who really began to revolutionise the whole hygeine question, it was he, for example, who promoted the Visible Man.
Lingner called his programme for the teaching of principles of hygeine amongst the masses "Social Hygeine". In a precursor to ideas of the Welfare State he believed that the nation's health was a form of capital (i.e., labour) which could be increased it if was looked after properly. Furthermore, Lingner believed that unsanitory living conditions helped ferment discontent amongst the populace. This was borne out by a study in South Wales in 1906 which pin-pointed the cause of several disturbances in the mining indusry there on a mild form of gastro-enteritis which was being passed around the mine-workers communities.
Alongside this growth in concern for hygeine was a popularisation for general fitness and what was to become "the body beautiful". The Olympic Games had begun in 1896 and sport of all kinds was on the increase in all sections of society, although it must be said that the working classes were not very good at many sports, apart from perhaps football, boxing, and a simple form of ping-pong using a pigs bladder filled with nutty slack. Gymnastics were particularly popular since this sport seemed to best typify the belief that a healthy body meant a healthy mind.
Rambling was also very popular and even working class people could indulge in this sport on their days off. However, in 1930's Britain rambling became a political issue as working class ramblers demanded that they be able to ramble all over the countryside even though the land was sectioned off into large estates. "Rambling Mobs", as they became known, walked over much of the private land of the north of Britain, tearing up fences as they went and, according to The Times, "intimidating deer". It is a well-known fact that deer in Britain are responsible for much woodland devastation, especially of hazel coppice, and in the present day have reached numbers far in excess of any previous time in history, including the time when they were commercially farmed, but why the ramblers "intimidated deer" back then is something of a mystery.
In Italy, the dictator, Benito Mussolini, foresaw the problems that working class walkers might pose to the stability of his regime, and, in 1926, passed a series of laws that prevented people walking for pleasure outside of town or city boundaries. He sponsored the creation of a nationwide network of walking clubs which were responsible for protecting the countryside and were the only organisations permitted to lead people through rural areas. The emphasis of these clubs was not walking for pleasure or to see the countryside, but to increase fitness, so, instead of rambling, these expeditions were actually forced marches in which each walker, regardless of strength, build or stamina was required to wear a backpack filled with bricks to the weight of 16 kilogrammes. In Germany there was no need for such action since walking for pleasure had been illegal since the Middle Ages and was perceived by now as merely a fitness exercise anyway. People who did venture out into the countryside to keep fit generally wore blinkers on their eyes to avoid staring at the land and kept themselves occupied by singing patriotic songs. By the 1920's, of course, this had become a popular sport. One of the most famous institutions of the Weimar years, the Bauhaus college of architecture, arts and crafts, arranged long hikes for its students to maintain their fitness, and had regular gymnastic and fitness classes that bear a striking resemblance to initiatives taken by modern Japanese managers to keep their workers fit and alert.
In the 1920's, in Germany especially, there was a concurrent rise in the popularity of nudism, and the nudists wanted to display their well-balanced and strong bodies to the world. The new architecture was also heavily influenced by principles of human nudism. The Swiss architect Le Corbussier, who had changed his name from Charles-Edouard Jeaneret in 1909, after an embarrassing scandal at a Hamburg fish restaurant, made great use of nudism in his work. In his 1923 book Vers une Architecture, Corbussier attacks any decoration in architecture and stipulates that plain surfaces are fundamental to modern building. He aimed to translate the nudist experience of lightness of being, personal space and free time into architectural forms. Other architects took up Corbussier's challenge and worked in the Corbussier style. Ernst May's housing developments even seemed to encourage nudism in their occupiers. When the ageing French sculptor, Aristide Maillol, was shown round one of May's developments in Frankfurt, by the "Red Count" Harry Kessler, in 1930, he was overwhelmed by the "humanity" of the architecture and the "unabashed nudity" of the residents. Thousands of nudists, in fact, regularly marched in close formation through urban centres all over Germany in the Weimar period, and this cult of the body slipped seemlessly into the Nazi ideology, where idealised depictions of strong, simple and cleverly erotic nude peasants became a minor art movement in itself.
The European Left had, by the end of the 1920's, claimed the whole ethos of hygeine, cleanliness and fitness as its own. However, this phenomenon was (until the Nazi's) largely sexless. This was a deliberate measure by the State in Germany and Russia. Both these countries had witnessed a revolution in which the more radical elements had urged a complete sexual revolution. The most well attended meetings in post-1917 Russia were the ones that dealt with sexual freedom and equality of the sexes, until Lenin himself ordered that this sort of thing should no longer be discussed and instead the values of hygeine, hard work and sacrifice should be promoted. In the "November Revolution" of 1918 in Germany, Munich-based writer, cabaret performer and anarchist, Erich Muhsam, called for "a republic based on councils combined with a sexual revolution". Government Socialists saw in the ethos of hygeine a way of combatting the breakdown of capitalist society that they thought lay at the heart of any kind of sexual revolution. The human body was to be clean, strong, upright and unwavering in its duty to society, a new world, they argued, by which they also meant a new, industrial, super-productive workforce, had to be built.
The Situation of European Jews
Anti-Semitism is one of the bedrocks of the Christian faith. Judaism has always presented a challenge and a problem for Christianity. It was an offshoot of Judaism which, at its very inception, tried to take over the old religion and convert all its members to the new one. However, it has never succeeded in destroying Judaism, a fact which has remained lodged in the side of the Church "like a pustulating wound", as Benny Scott, the biographer of Sir Walter Raleigh, has put it. The ever-expanding tendency of Christianity, through missionary (i.e. colonial) work and conversion (usually forcible) was one of the reasons it became so attractive to the late Roman Empire. This Empire found itself slowly flagging in its control of Europe but Christianity provided a clever way in which to continue as the real powerbroker of European politics and wealth: it transformed itself into The Holy Roman Empire. This ideologically supreme power soon enabled the Christian Church to become the single most important landowner in Europe.
Despite eclipsing Judaism in all respects the Christian Church still held onto its vendetta towards it, and even intensified the attack. Jews could be held responsible for a whole host of misfortunes that ordinary folk might otherwise blame their Christian rulers for. In the early Middle Ages the Popes of Rome decreed that while a heretic might eventually enter the gates of heaven, it would never be possible for a Jew to do likewise. While the Jews may not have actually wanted to enter a Christian heaven, it was easy to see that the Church of Rome threatened them with a Christian hell on earth.
Protestants did nothing to halt the Christian feeling against Jews, in fact, they proved to be even more zealous in their anti-Semitism. The main Protestant reformer, Martin Luther (1483-1546), was an enthusiastic Jew-hater, his declarations invoke disgust in most modern readers. He wanted to see them all removed from Christian lands, their homes and synagogues destroyed. Luther was also a champion of flatulence as a way of combatting the Devil.
As the centuries wore on, anti-Semitism remained a bulwark of Christianity and its Enlightened offspring, Rationalism. Rationalist philosophers, such as Voltaire, in attacking the Old Testament, had blamed the Jews for the intolerance and brutality that the Catholic Church had continually inflicted upon Europe. (The Old Testament was written sometime in the two centuries before the birth of "Christ", and is therefore a Jewish text. The God described in the Old Testament, and which the Catholic Church tried to emulate, was a cruel, volatile, possessive and touchy god with hair that he couldn't control.) This secular anti-Semitism was taken up by the young Hegelians, people such as Ludwig Feuerbach and Friedrich Daumer. Capitalism became synonymous with Judaism because socialists propagandised Jews as controllers of the money system. The Russian anarchist, Bakunin, freely proclaimed his anti-Semitism, and Karl Marx made use of popular anti-Semitic epithets when discussing or attacking rival socialists who happened to have Jewish origins, such as Ferdinand Lassalle. It was only when the major ideologues of German Socialism saw that racial anti-Semitism was a powerful tool of their enemies on the Right that they began to oppose it. But by then much of the damage had been done.
By the end of the First World War in Germany anti-Semitism had become the preserve of big business. In 1917, The Fatherland Party boasted such corporate members as Siemens and Krupp. This was an extremely anti-Semitic party that took most of its ideas from the previous century's, United Association of Anti-Semitic Parties which in 1899 argued for a "final solution" to the Jewish "problem". The Fatherland Party stated that "since the Jewish problem will reach world proportions in the course of the twentieth century it will have to be solved in the end by the complete exclusion and.....finally annihilation of the Jewish people".
Contrary to the way the "final solution" of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party), is generally taught in Western schools, that is, as a kind of aberration in history, or a period when "the madmen" took control, we can clearly see that it was the actions of the leaders of society, the capitalist class, and the philosophies of Christianity, Protestantism and Rationalism that made the "holocaust" happen. Of course, the main reason big business vociferously supported anti-Semitism was as a way of combatting the revolutionary feeling of the working class across Germany which had made itself apparent at the end of the First Wold War. Businesses like Siemens wanted to equate revolutionism with Judaism and thereby cast it as un-German and unclean, they targetted any left radicals with Jewish names, declared that any radical ideas were the ideas of Jews, and proclaimed this as proof of a Jewish plot to bring down Christianity and order itself.
It was only natural that the new principles of hygeine and fitness (in all senses of the word) would be used by anti-Semites to make their case for so-called "racial" purity. The Jews were cast as an alien race, a foreign body. The Christian-Rationalist Ethic had prepared the ground for a final "ethnic cleansing".
Rationalism as the Modified Religion
Since 1945 the manipulators of ideology in the West have given the philosophy of Rationalism full official backing because Christianity on its own has proved unable to justify all the actions of States in the last two centuries. Rationalism is, in reality, an offshoot of Christianity, and particularly Protestantism. The two main tenets of Rationalism are that knowledge is acquired through reason without regard to experience and that reason, rather than divine revelation, is the basis for establishing religious faith. Since we can assume that the ruling ideology is the ideology of the ruling class then we can also assume that Reason is defined by those in power, those who have control of ideology. Thus, whereas heretics from Christianity were alleged to be working for the Devil, secular heretics in the modern day are alleged to be unreasonable, extremist, blinkered and mad, i.e., not rational. What both types of heretic share, of course, is their alleged susceptibility to taking on board "wrong" ideas or falling under the spell of "evil" people.
The Body as the Modified Temple
One thing that post-1945 Western society has continued with zeal from the pre-war period is the cult of sport, fitness and health. Now, at the end of the century we see this cult having reached gigantic proportions, and so it can be said that one major bulwark of Nazi culture has survived, and indeed gone global. It could be argued that much of the reason for this this has to do with the commodification of "leisure" time that has occurred over the last fifty years, but it must not be forgotten that the modern craze for "health, fitness and beauty" has its roots planted firmly in the ideas of "racial purity".
There is a great drive on the part of nations in the "West" for health of all kinds, information about illness and psychological distress have never been so widely publicised. Related to this are the wider concerns that sections of the ruling class are promoting on environmental issues, or the health of the planet.
Some radical observers are beginning to point out that the needs of the working class collectively are being cleverly sidestepped, or diverted, into a futile search for personal health and well-being, and that people are falling for the "fantasy" that the needs of the planet are more important than their own personal or collective needs. Of course, the needs of the planet are defined by the same class which defines Reason. Environmentalism is a feature of the science of Democracy, which allows ruling classes to create forms of opposition which pose no threat to the status quo and, through the media and other ideological tools (including left wing groups, unions, and most "grass roots" organisations), to convince genuinely concerned people that they are acting for themselves. Anthropometrists have been measuring the comparative body sizes and proportions of "protesters" in the U.S.A. for some years now but have come up with nothing conclusive. Professor Rex Neuwith of Santa Monica has, however, found that environmental activists generally have longer shin-bones than the wider populace. His measurements of workplace activists are to be published in the next year or so, and promise to make interesting reading.
And now, after 89 years, we see the return of the Visible Man, in the guise of the giant human body exhibit to be erected under the Millenuim Dome in Greenwich, London. This body will be so big that people will be able to walk around inside it and see how the body works and what everything looks like. Instead of standing with its arms raised in a gesture of exhultation and hope, as the Visible Man did, this body will be seated on the floor. Part of the reason for this position lies in the fact that it has to fit under the Dome, but an even more important one is that a posture similar to that of the Visible Man would be linked in many people's eyes with the kind of imagery used by the Nazi's. Even if the body were to be standing up in a fairly neutral pose it would probably be deemed too aggressive, or even too machine-like, which will be ironic since doubtless many of the functions of the body will be compared to machines. In fact, the current proposal is that the body will be of a silver colour and will be a representation of a "mother figure". In one sense it is the perfect partner to the Visible Man, with his lofty, "masculine" vision. What the Millenium Body (which will be called "Britannia") will do is emphasise the strength of the nation as expressed in its healthy mothers and healthy children. There were many such depictions of motherhood in Nazi Germany. It could be any Western leader, it could easily be Tony Blair, but it was Adolf Hitler who said, "The family is the smallest but most precious unit in the building of a state".
Whereas the symbolism of the Visible Man was rooted in a vision of the future which was common to many different strands of society, of various political or religious persuasions, the symbolism of the Millenium Body will reflect the sense of satisfaction and lack of fear which the worlds ruling class now feels. Today, we are told, there is nothing new under the sun. The "End of History" has been proclaimed. We can be assured that all powerful nations act with reason and compassion. Hollywood films tell us that as long as the law is properly enforced we will live long and prosper. The relaxed pose of the Millenium Body tells us that we in the West have conquered foolishness. The Visible Man raised his arms to a God or, at least, a higher thing, the Millenium Body sees no higher thing, in fact, it will look, not down on us, but over us, like a giant virtual-reality corpse, animated by computer chips. The Millenium Body is a symbol of the triumph of Rationalism. Christianity has created a Rationalist Millenium. The crisis that has beset Christianity for at least two centuries and which reached its explosion point in the 1930's has, since 1945, been slowly resolved. Rationalism has become the ideological vehicle for the worlds domination by Christianity. Just as the Holy Roman Empire transcended the Roman Empire, so Rationalism has transcended Christianity, and in both cases Power has been made more powerful. Voltaire and the other Rationalist philosophers, such as Leibniz and Locke, have eclipsed Martin Luther as a Christian Reformer. Like President Bill Clinton, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is a creation of Reason. And our Rationalist society (i.e., that of the West - U.S.A., Europe, Australia, etc.) is only one clever step on from the Christian-Rationalist society that the National Socialist German Workers Party felt destined to create.
PROLETARIAN GOB - AFTERWORD
Proletarian Gob is not publishing Andrew Pflaeger's extensive footnotes or bibliography for reasons of space, the text stands well enough on its own, despite its many shortcomings, we believe.
Proletarian Gob must emphasise that by printing this academic work (for which we had the full permission of the author) we can in no way be held responsible for any of the views expressed in it. We are printing it merely because we think it makes some interesting points and may provide some food for thought. We do not think it necessary to make a critique of the text here, or expand on any issues raised or rebuff any of the stupidities in it. We should, however, state that we heartily condemn the science of anthropometry, which is utterly despicable and false in all aspects.
Finally, it should be made clear that Proletarian Gob has no wish to enter into any kind of correspondence concerning the above article, or any related matters, and any letters sent with this intention to the address given will be burned. Further copies of the text will be supplied, however, on receipt of a self-addressed envelope and the appropriate stamps or donation.
Some readers may have noticed that the spelling of the word "millennium" in this pamphlet differs from the accepted modern British standard spelling. We have used the pre-Caxton spelling. The English printer William Caxton, who was the foremost standardiser of language in the British Isles, changed the spelling that had remained basically the same for two centuries, ever since the radical Windsor Forest astronomer, John Food, initially coined the word in 1262. Food was also a mathematician and contortionist who was able to demonstrate the validity of logarithmic formulations by the use of two horses and the egg of a common hen. For this he was hounded out of England by the Church. He was eventually imprisoned in Turin for non-payment of a road toll and spent over thirty years in gaol. When Food was released he was old and his body was bent, but his spirit was undimmed, at the gates of the prison he turned round to his gaolers and, in a croaking voice, proclaimed, "Thirty-two years! Pathetic! I could spend another thirty-two years in there and it would be like the blinking of an eye! I mock prison life and all it represents....." Unfortunately a local magistrate overheard Food's words of contempt and had him re-committed to prison, which is where he died, eleven years later. And so it is in honour of John Food that we use his spelling of the word "millenium".
PROLETARIAN GOB. MAY 1998.
Digitised by Subversion. Some minor corrections by libcom.org